CHAPTER 2.docx

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30 Mar 2012
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CHAPTER 2
- Police Selection Procedure: A set of procedures used by the police to either screen out
undesirable candidates or select in desirable candidates
A Brief history of police selection
- Considered one of the earliest examples, Lewis Terman, in 1917 used the Stanford-Binet
Intelligence Test to assist with police selection in California
- By the mid-1950s, psychological and psychiatric screening procedures of the police applicants
became a standard part of the selection procedure in several major police forces
- All Canadian police agencies currently conduct background checks of their applicants and
require medical exams. Most Canadian police agencies use a range of cognitive ability and
personality tests in their selection process, such as RCMP’s Police Aptitude Test and the Six
Factor Personality Questionnaire, which measures conscientiousness
The Police Selection Process
- In general terms, there are two separate stages to this process. Stage one is referred to as the
job analysis stage. Here, the agency must define the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) of a
“goof” police officer. Stage two is referred to as the construction and validation stage. In this
stage, the agency must develop an instrument for measuring the extent to which police
applicants possess these KSA’s. A crucial part of this stage also requires that the agency
determine the instrument’s validity, or the extent to which the scores on the instrument actually
relate to measures of actual, on-the-job police performance
Conducting a Job Analysis
o Job Analysis: A procedure for identifying the knowledge, skills, and abilities that make a
good police officer
o One of the major problems that can be encountered is that the KSAs of a good police
officer may not be stable over time, making it difficult to determine what the selection
procedures should be testing for
o Regardless of how the job analysis is conducted, the following KSAs are typically viewed
as essential: honesty, reliability, sensitivity to others, good communication skills, high
motivation, problem-solving skills, and being a team player
Constructing and Validating Selection Instruments
o The measure of validation that we are most interested in is referred to as predictive
validity, which is our ability to use a selection instrument to predict how applicants will
perform in the future
o Arguably, the most serious problem relates to how we measure the performance of
police officers
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o Researchers have used several measures as indicators of job performance, including the
number of times an officer is tardy, the number of complaints against an officer, the
number of commendations received by an officer, graduation from training academy,
academy exam scores, performance rating by supervisors, performance ratings by
peers, and so forth. The problem is that there is no evidence to suggest that one of
these measures is any better than another, and even police agencies do not agree on
how to define good performance.
The Validity of Police Selection Instruments
o Selection interview: In recruiting police officers, an interview is used by the police to
determine the extent to which an applicant possesses the knowledge, skills, and abilities
deemed important for the job
o Three specific selection instruments; the selection interview, psychological tests, and
the assessment centre
o One of the main goals of the selection interview is to determine the extent to which the
applicant possesses the KSAs that have been deemed important in a job analysis
o Surprisingly, given its frequent use as a selection instrument, there is relatively little
research examining the predictive validity of the selection interview in the policing
context
o Some research indicates that selection interviews can be used in a relatively accurate
fashion to predict job performance, whereas other research suggests that basing police
selection decisions on interviews can be potentially problematic
o Doerner’s (1997) study, where he examined the degree to which different interviewers
agree in their ratings of various attributes when interviewing the same applicant
o Doerner found that the majority if inter-rater reliability measures were relatively low.
o Changing the way in which an interview is constructed and conducted can have a big
impact on its validity
Psychological Tests
o Psychological tests are useful in deciding whether a person possesses certain attributes,
and it is believed that this knowledge can be helpful, to some extent at least, in
selecting applicants to become police officers
Cognitive ability tests
o Cognitive ability tests: Procedure for measuring verbal, mathematical, memory, and
reasoning abilities
o The RCMP Police Aptitude Test (RPAT) consists of 114 MC questions designed to
evaluate an applicant’s potential aptitude for police work. The test measures seven core
skills that are considered essential in performing the duties of a police officer: written
composition, comprehension, memory, judgement, observation, logic, and computation
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